IAS officers summoned by Ashwin kept it all hush-hush

None came forward to inform govt about extortion racket in Lokayukta

IAS officers summoned by Ashwin kept it all hush-hush

 While the Special Investigation Team’s (SIT) probe into the corruption and extortion racket within the Lokayukta is underway, it has come to light that senior IAS officers, who were summoned by the extortionist gang, had never informed the government about the incident.

The IAS officers, including Bengaluru (Urban) Deputy Commissioner V Shankar, Principal Secretary of the Social Welfare Department Gangaram Baderiya, BDA Commissioner T Sham Bhat, Principal Secretary of the Family Welfare Department M Lakshminarayana and Davangere Deputy Commissioner S P Anjan Kumar, have given statements about being summoned by Lokayukta Justice Y Bhaskar Rao’s son Yerabati Ashwin and his gang only after being asked by the SIT.

Shankar’s statement reveals that Ashwin had been calling him since October 2014. He was summoned to the Lokayukta office by suspended Joint Commissioner (PRO) Syed Riyaz. From there, he was taken to the official residence of the Lokayukta Justice Y Bhaskar Rao on Crescent Road, where Ashwin pressurised him for certain favours. After this, there were frequent calls from Ashwin for various works till May 2015. However, before August 2015, the day he gave a statement to the SIT, Shankar had never spoken about the extortion activities at the Lokayukta’s house and office.

Similarly, when called by the SIT, senior IAS officer Baderiya said he was summoned by the gang and asked to cough up Rs 5 crore.

V Bhaskar, now in judicial custody, had summoned Baderiya to the Crescent Road residence of Justice Rao. Again, despite being called repeatedly to extort money, Baderiya has not brought it to the notice of the government.

The two other IAS officers - Lakshminarayana and S P Anjan Kumar - had worked in the BBMP earlier and knew about the antecedents of V Bhaskar alias ‘420 Bhaskar’. Anjan Kumar was earlier a Joint Commissioner in the BBMP and stated in the statement that he was surprised to see Bhaskar introducing himself as Lokayukta Justice Rao’s special officer.

Ashwin and his gang had asked Anjan Kumar to negotiate a deal with Union Minister G M Siddeswara’s brother Lingaraju, who was arrested by the Lokayukta SIT, probing illegal mining.

A senior SIT official said the government officials gave the statement after being asked to do so. “Except Lakshminarayana, who claims to have told the Lokayukta about his son’s activities, no other officer has brought it to the notice of either the government or the Lokayukta. The investigation into the call records revealed that many officials were called by the gang, hence they were asked to give the statement,” the official said.

The SIT is still probing the relationship between Ashwin and Bhat who have exchanged more than 300 calls and almost 200 SMSes. Both were in constant touch since October 2014 to June 2015 and Bhat has reportedly told the SIT that he too was a victim of the gang.

Bureaucrats lack integrity, says Hegde

Justice N Santosh Hegde, former Lokayukta said: “This shows that these senior bureaucrats lack integrity. This also reveals that there was a sense of guilty consciousness among these officials. For, extortion is a cognizable offence and not bringing it to the notice of the government amounts to concealing of evidence under the IPC. All these officials say they never paid any money. If it is true, what stopped them from informing the government about such a gang thriving using Lokayukta’s residence and office.”

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